Friday, June 18, 2010

Onomatopoeic office equipment.

If you are close to my age you probably at some time in your life held a piece of paper that was run off on a mimeograph machine. Before Xerox machines that used malodorous thermal paper most offices had these machines that held a stencil on a rotating drum. Ink was dispensed through the stencil as the drum rotated and paper was fed through. The stencil moved across each sheet of paper and the paper came out printed with whatever was on the stencil.
When I live in Lahaina, our church was about 100 yards from our house. I would visit the church office, a small room under some stairs, sometimes. My mother was the church secretary for many years. I might have seen her on the IBM Selectric typewriter, her eyes on her notes, fingers moving on the keys and little metal globe wrapping words.
Then my dad would run the mimeograph machine. Unlike older hand crank models, this had a motor that rotated the drum, fed the paper, and best of all, the receiving tray widened and narrowed as the printed paper went into it.
My dad would throw a switch and the machine would hum. Another switch and a steady click CLICK click CLICK click CLICK would begin. Finally one more control would be activated and I would enjoy the chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK.
My dad would press a long lever down inking the machine often. I would watch the paper tray and listen and smell the stencil and ink. This in one of my favorite childhood memories. More than any beach we ever went to I loved this.

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